Posts Tagged ‘role theory

Why the debate on “public intellectuals” is faulty (pt. 1 of 2)

Hi, Tom Medvetz here, checking in with my fourth OrgTheory guest post (posts 12, and 3 here). Today I’ll sketch a few notes about one of the big issues my book speaks to: the complex relationship between social knowledge and public action in the US. Perhaps the best-known debate on this topic is the one associated with Russell Jacoby’s 1987 book, The Last Intellectuals, which famously lamented the disappearance of “public intellectuals” from American life. In the years since its publication, Jacoby’s book and the idea of the “public intellectual” have earned enormous attention from journalists, pundits, and scholars.

However, reading over some of the major entries in this debate, it’s hard to shake the feeling that the “public intellectual” discussion has yielded more heat than light. In the first place, it’s striking how much disagreement still attends the central question a quarter-century later: Is public intellectualism declining or thriving in America? It depends on who you ask. Three days ago, Henry Giroux’s Counterpunch essay “The Disappearance of Public Intellectuals” seemed to take the basic truth of Jacoby’s thesis for granted. Meanwhile, many other writers have taken the opposite stance by arguing that public intellectuals are alive and well in the US. A good example is Daniel W. Drezner’s 2008 paper “Public Intellectuals 2.0,” which maintained that “the growth of online publication venues has stimulated rather than retarded the quality and diversity of public intellectuals.”

A second glance at this debate reveals a likely reason for the disagreement. Put simply, there has never been any consensus about the proper definition of the term public intellectual. In fact, it’s fair to say that how a given writer operationalizes the term tends to determine where he or she stands on the issue.

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Written by Tom Medvetz

October 12, 2012 at 12:41 am

“us” and “them” in strategic management


Throughout my academic career, I have been a member of a community of scholars, who label themselves “Strategy-as-Practice” (it has also been called “activity perspective”, “micro-strategizing” and other things but this label seems to have stuck.) It all started when I stumbled into the EGOS conference as a fresh PhD student and noticed that among this group of people, I could pursue my interest in micro-sociological issues and philosophy and still do research on strategy (those interested in what strategy-as-practice, see, as well as here, here, here and here).

The S-as-P group meets at various conferences and meetings during the academic year. There is a PDW at the Academy next summer, a working group within the Strategic Management Society, and many other occasions. For me, a special event each year is the Annual EGOS conference, and its subtheme on S-as-P. Not only is EGOS a great conference – for me it is always the event where our org studies community celebrates the privileged position we are in, doing science for a living. The sub-theme is where my career as a scholar began.

This evening, I am faced with the daunting challenge and priviledge to start drafting the proposal for a the S-as-P theme for the year of 2009. I thought that maybe it would be fun to share some of my early ideas with you.

Individuals in strategic management

For me, the really fascinating thing about strategy work in organizations have been people: people at all levels of the organization. How they find roles in strategy processes (this was the topic of my PhD), how they formulate collective intent, or how they get included or excluded from strategy work (our forthcoming Org Sci paper). Organizations do not make or implement strategies, people do. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by smantere

November 10, 2007 at 10:32 pm